Monday, February 4, 2019
Julie raised an impish face with ‘wise owl’ eyes to newlyweds, Dianne and Hugh Levitt. She wished she could be as happy as they were. She felt something, but it was not happy. She stared down at the ground, making an effort not to drag her feet along the macadam road which stretched past dairy and livestock farms. In the midst of this pastoral setting sat a nifty Cape Cod styled house the Levitt’s would soon call home. They swung their hands in unison, strolling to a lawn reception to be held at the home of Dianne’s gal pal, Abigail Dawes.
Tears stung Julie’s eyes. Things seemed pretty cool right now. She was ten years old, growing up fast, but not fast enough. Dianne and Hugh were in the process of adopting her. But nothing good ever lasted.
The threesome made a right angle turn and went down a rutted dirt road past a huge wood pile in a clearing which narrowed to a drive bordered by hedges. As they drew near to a freshly painted white farmhouse with green trim, Julie released each pulsating hand and skipped ahead through a grassy triangle cut out by the sun beneath tall poplars.
Abigail was leaning over an elaborately set long white table, fussing with a centerpiece of white camellias, white roses and delicate baby’s breath. She turned at the sounds behind her and looked up. “The guests of honor have arrived,” she announced.
Julie slid her hands down the lush material of her pale pink lace dress, pleased that it was a girlie garment with elegant bows front and back on her tiny waist. Hand-tooled, silver barrettes held her side swept auburn hair in place. The grown-up style made her look older; at least twelve.
“You’re a knock-out,” Abigail gushed. “That is a stunning dress. I meant to tell you how much I liked it at the ceremony.” She had a wide smile and her cheeks were flushed. “Would you help me serve these? I don’t have enough hands and many of the guests have arrived. I know you would rather be doing something than standing around looking beautiful.”
Julie accepted a platter of canapés and sampled three. “They taste good. I’m hungry.”
“Save some for the guests,” Abigail called after her.
Julie headed in Dianne’s direction. The bride was talking with her father, John Hobarth. She listened as Mr. Hobarth congratulated his daughter, “Dianne, you look ravishing. You deserve to be happy with a remarkable husband and a charming daughter.”
“I feel blessed.” Dianne beamed as Julie drew near with the tempting tray.
“Have one of these little sandwiches, Dianne,” Julie pressed. “The peanut butter and jelly ones taste best.”
“Um, they all look delicious, honey; just one – the one with a cucumber on top.”
A black limousine with a Massachusetts license plate drove into the yard and stopped. Julie watched Yvonne Baleaux step out of the back seat of the vehicle while two silver-haired, jeweled ladies climbed out of the front of the car. They each carried gifts. Abigail greeted them with smiling assurance and guided them to a table set up for the purpose of displaying the gifts. A circle of white crepe paper bells danced overhead.
Yvonne made a bee line to Hugh. Julie crept up behind Yvonne and Hugh and spied on them.
“Wow, super day,” Yvonne said breathlessly, shaking out her luxuriant red hair with blond highlights. Hugh leaned his cheek down to her. With her slender, musk scented hands she turned his face sharply and kissed him full on the lips. “Congratulations bridegroom. I hope you’ll be happy with the little woman.” Pouting, she looked across the sweep of lawn at Dianne mingling with guests.
“I’ll be reasonably happy,” Hugh drawled. “I knew from the moment I met Dianne I loved her.”
Yvonne’s laugh was contemptuous. “You’re not a romantic, Hugh. Love…you! A forty-one year old kiddie counselor, hitching up with an old-maid social worker? You were more exciting when you were an ad executive!”
Hugh’s eyes narrowed. “What pointed nails you have, Yvonne. Why don’t you make an appointment to see me at my office? I have just the therapy to help you function socially.”
Julie nudged Hugh and offered him canapés from her tray. He placed several on a napkin and winked at her. She turned deliberately away from Ms. Baleaux and proceeded on her way.
“And, you have a brat in the package!” Yvonne snapped her elegant fingers in the air. “Now, about that offer, Doctor, if you are considering couch therapy …”
The guests were called together at one o’clock to feast on a sumptuous luncheon. Mid-way through the gala, Julie left her barely touched plate and walked over to a table situated adjacent to the main one, to view the beautifully decorated, two-tiered wedding cake. She stared for a long time at the miniature bride and groom ornamenting the top of the cake. She suddenly ached for the dysfunctional mother whom she would never see again, and, at the same time, a rush of abusive memories threatened to paralyze her.
Out of the blue, Dianne appeared and handed Julie a napkin. “Here, you’ll want to wipe the kool-aid ring above your lips.”
Julie rubbed the paper napkin over her mouth and crumpled it into a ball.
“Come with me,” Diane smiled down at her.
Julie followed the vision in the rustling, white taffeta dress across the lawn, away from the celebration. They stopped beneath the network of paper wedding bells where splendid arrays of white, silver and gold packages were spread out on the table.
“It’s too early to open gifts,” Dianne explained. “We must wait for the proper time but I want you to open this one.” She picked up a small package wrapped in glossy white paper and handed it to Julie.
“Go ahead, open it.”
Steadily, Julie looked up at Dianne. She dropped the napkin on the grass and ripped the paper off the box, removing its cover. Inside a folded tissue lay a gold charm bracelet with a triangle charm fastened to it. She held the dainty piece up in order to read the inscription appearing on each flat surface of the charm. It bore the names of Hugh, Dianne and Julie. A tiny silver cross dangled in the middle with the name Levitt and the wedding date inscribed on it. She extended her thin arm out to the flushed bride. “Put it on my wrist!”
“Please,” Dianne coaxed.
Julie rolled her eyes impatiently. “Please.”
Dianne secured the hasp. An intense, warm feeling came over Julie and she burrowed her face into a pleasantly-scented bosom. In the next moment, Hugh’s strong arms encircled them both. At that moment, Julie knew in her heart contentment would grow.
Copyright © Patricia Crandall
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Nadia Bhagg pulled on her winter jacket, grabbed her purse, and went outside to her car. She walked cautiously across the driveway, icy from freezing rain.
She reckoned with a little luck and a prayer, it was an ideal time to draw out the rogue who was stalking her and her family during ice and freezing rain storms. It had all began in December during the first ice storm of the season. Her son Joe had been forced off the road into a ditch. Then it had been daughter Tam. Each had described a red Dodge truck appearing suddenly behind them, bumping their car until they lost control of the vehicle and it went off the road. Fortunately for the Bhagg's no-one had been seriously injured thus far.
As she suspected, the back road to the PC Market was covered with black ice. Nadia choked up on the wheel and adjusted the speed of the Subaru to twenty miles an hour.
Suddenly a red truck appeared and rammed the rear bumper of her Subaru. With her heart racing, Nadia raised her eyes to the rear view mirror and exchanged looks with a blood-curdling, defiant stare.
The truck struck the bumper repeated. The Subaru spun, left the road and struck a tree.
Sergeant Patsy Dibbs stared at Nadia Bhagg’s swollen, black and blue eyes. Gauze bandages swathed her bruised hands and arms.
“Why not spot the person now?” the tall and slender policewoman asked. Her silken blond hair was twisted into a tousled knot at the nape of her neck.
“Later,” Nadia said, grim-faced, her brown eyes looking even darker beneath the bruises.
“Okay, then, I’ll read your statement back to you, Mrs. Bhagg.”
Patsy accepted a printed form from Nick Barnes. The EMS technician had transported Nadia to her home from the ER at St. Theresa’s hospital. “If this is correct, please sign your name by the X.”
“On the way to the Price Chopper Market in Bennington, Vermont, I, Nadia Bhagg, while driving along roads where black ice frequently appeared, was tailgated by a red pick-up truck. I slowed to less than twenty miles per hour due to the hazardous conditions and the truck rammed the rear bumper of my Suburu. My car was repeatedly struck until it spun out of control, left the road and crashed into a tree.”
“Is this statement correct?”
Nadia winced as she nodded her head. “Yes.”
As she signed her name, several family members crowded into the small, spice-scented kitchen.
"Ma, what happened?" Joe Bhaggs removed his hat and slammed it down on the counter. "You know better than to drive in weather like this." His dark eyes stared at his mother behind his glasses. "You're aware of the situation we're dealing with."
“I’m fine, Joe. Please don’t fuss.” Nadia's split lips turned down reflexively.
Grandson Joe Junior, a slump-shouldered youth, scuffed over to the counter and helped himself to a chocolate chip square from the cookie jar.
Slack-faced Jacob, another grandson, widened his stance and cracked his knuckles.
Nadia considered the police officer and said, “Families are complicated, aren't they, Sergeant?"
Patsy Dibbs eyes widened.
Nadia went on in an exhausted voice. "You cannot conceive of my agony, my despair when I looked into the rear view mirror and saw the devil behind the wheel of the truck manifested as one of my kin.” She lowered her voice. “The family calls 911 every time he terrorizes one of us.”
Joe Bhagg, braced against the faded counter, cleared his throat. “Ma, we’re private folks. We’ll deal with our own.”
Pushing back gray tendrils of loose hair, Nadia said sternly, “This kin ends up in jail and the evaluators send him to rehab where a calming medication is administered. Within a week, he’s released because he acts normal.” She folded her bandaged hands across her bosom. “I don’t want to repeat this scenario, Sergeant Dibbs. I want this latest incident treated as a medical emergency and not as a crime scene.”
Joe Junior darted toward the door. The tech tackled him and pinned him down. With an assist from Junior's father and brother, Barnes gave him a sedation injection to stabilize him.
“Sorry, Jacob,” Patsy Dibbs said moments later, “I had you pegged for the car basher and not your brother.” She shifted her gaze back to Nadia. “I’ll facilitate Joe Junior's treatment through my captain’s recommendations and those of the head psychiatrist at the psychiatric ward. I guarantee he will remain in the clinic for as long as it takes to treat his illness. Thereafter, he’ll have the proper follow-up and drug therapy.” She looked solemnly at Nadia. “In the meantime, Joe Junior will be charged for this crime but it’s likely to be tossed due to his illness.”
After everyone left, Nadia collapsed in her favorite chair and blessed herself. It was hard managing a futile system, one that forced her to stage an accident. If she had managed well, Joe Junior would get the remedial assistance he so badly needed for schizophrenia and the family would begin to heal.
Copyright © Patricia Crandall
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Excerpted from the newest book in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.
You need only a few essentials in your Amazon tool box to build the traffic crucial for your reviews to be seen—and to convince readers to buy your book. , How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career helps you get the reviews that influence Amazon’s sales ranking and this section gives you everything else you need to maximize them.
Amazon sales rankings are dandy little aids for evaluating how your book is selling. Not that you should fixate on that, but having an indicator that your book might need a little sales boost is nice. And—when those ratings are nurtured—they prod Amazon’s algorithms to lead people who read books similar to yours to your Amazon buy page.
The problem is that most authors and publishers know little if anything about how those rankings come about. That isn’t their fault because I doubt if Jeff Bezos, the brains behind the entire Amazon model, knows exactly what his algorithms measure. If they’re anything like the rest of the Amazon site, they change from day to day anyway. You don’t need to know the magic behind them; you do need to know what they are and how to prod them a little:
§ Find your sales ranking (or rankings) on your book’s buy page under “product details.” Often called “metadata,” these details are the specifics for your book like ISBN, publisher, number of pages, etc. Scroll down a bit to find this section on your page.
§ If you have a ranking of 24,800, that means that 24,799 books listed in your category are selling better than your book and that up to millions of books in your book’s category are selling less well.
§ The lower your sales ranking number for your book the better. Sales rankings for your Kindle (e-book) page will not be the same as the one on your paperback page.
Note: When the pages for your paper book and e-book are digitally connected properly, your reviews will be the same on both pages. (There should be a link on each page pointing to the other.)
§ If you market and promote, your efforts may lower those rankings (lower is good!). If so, celebrate because this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the marketing you are doing does not improve your rating at all, though it should contribute to your overall branding effort.
§ Don’t try to translate a drop in your ratings to the number of books sold. The algorithms are a lot more complicated than that.
§ Sales rankings fluctuate (sometimes wildly) during the day.
Warning: Do not spend a lot of time checking your ratings. They should be used as indicators. They shouldn’t become an obsession. It’s best not to obsess, but if you can’t avoid it, Bookbuzzr.com and others provide services available for pinging ratings to you in your e-mail box.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.
The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is www.howtodoitfrugally.com
Amazon Profile - bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile
Twitter - @FrugalBookPromo
Monday, August 6, 2018
Thursday, August 2, 2018
Let’s analyze a sentence from a story:
The story: Two women discuss a visit to a doctor. The one who saw the specialist is fine and found to be in good health. She tells the other....
“The cardiologist said my heart was strong enough to last another fifty years.”
The parts of the sentence that don’t jibe are the words said and was.
The word said implies something already spoken and is being related in the conversation. This word is correctly used.
The word was is past-tense and ambiguous. Used as it is in this sentence, it implies something has changed to the woman’s health since she visited her doctor; was healthy then, but now....
As stated at the top of this article, we know that the woman’s health is still fine, so the bit of dialogue must accurately show that as well.
Though the dialogue talks about something that happened in the past—the conversation with the doctor—the health condition has not changed in the present. The correct way to write that bit of dialogue is:
“The cardiologist said my heart is strong enough to last another fifty years.”
The word was is replaced with is, implying the woman’s heart remains healthy.
Simple nuances like these go undetected by most, even by many avid readers. Misuse of certain words and phrases are part of the colloquial way our English has evolved over time.
To be grammatically correct with past, present and future tenses in writing, we need to be astute and analyze our sentence structures and make them cohesive.
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Julie raised an impish face with ‘wise owl’ eyes to newlyweds, Dianne and Hugh Levitt. She wished she could be as happy as they were. She f...
Excerpted from the newest book in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, How to Ge...
Much confusion exists about what goes inside or outside of the end quotes in dialogue. To digress briefly, the only sentences ...